Pulling teeth

The next few hours may see Maiden becalmed as Geronimo motors up from astern

Friday September 6th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
It has been like pulling teeth and after an exasperating day of "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours", madfor sailing was finally unable to broker a deal between the Maiden II and Geronimo camps to bring you their relative positions over the course of their current Round Britain and Ireland record attempts.

In short we were told that each would play ball if the other would. We got Geronimo's position for 1200 GMT today (which we could only make public if we got Maiden II's), but when it subsequently came to getting Maiden II's it was decided that in fact they did not want to give out their position for midday despite it being six hours in the past.

So we're fed up and have gone to the pub.

Looking at the weather charts for the past 24 hours and ahead, perhaps reveals the reasons for Maiden II's shyness. The boats started at much the same time, but from different start lines - Maiden II off Ventnor on the southeast side of the Isle of Wight while Geronimo set off from a line off the Lizard around 150 nautical miles to the west. Both are sailing anticlockwise around the British Isles.

While reports back from Maiden II indicate that they were becalmed for seven hours last night, Geronimo had 20 knot following winds which took them all the way up the Channel at high speed. This afternoon de Kersauson reported that they were sailing at 27.5 knots, although in a subsequent report their speed had dropped to 23.

Unfortunately the passage up the North Sea at present looks like it will also be worse for Maiden II than it will be for de Kersauson's tri with a massive stretch of very light winds to the east of Scotland more or less all the way up to the Shetlands. This could see Maiden II all but parking up as Geronimo steams up from astern.

How long it will take the two giant multihulls to get round the top of the Shetlands is anyone's guess, but the good news is that once they are out of the clutches of the light winds they will be motoring along on a Southern Ocean-style rollercoaster ride first south west to St Kilda off the Outer Hebrides, then the south down the west coast of Ireland. But the longer it takes them to get round the Shetlands, the lighter the winds will be.

All being well, the big winds may see them good until they get to the Channel when once again it may go light again and the nail biting will start once again...

There was some debate over the legality of Geronimo starting from the Lizard rather than off the Isle of Wight, but the World Speed Sailing Record Council's Sir Peter Johnson confirmed to madfor sailing that Round Britain and Ireland attempts could be made from anywhere mutually agreed between the WSSRC and the challenger. "It's got to be somewhere where our observer can see the boat even if it's blowing a force 9 gale," he commented. Lizard Point and the beach at Ventnor are two such places.

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